The plans were revealed in patent applications published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office in the past two months. Richard Bilbao of the Orlando Business Journal found several of these applications on the USPTO website, so I ran a search to take a look at the patent files for myself. If you want to see all of Universal's recent patent applications, search for "Universal City Studios" for "Applicant Name" on http://appft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html.
One application for a "Simulator Ride" is for a flying theater attraction without ride vehicles, a floor, or even seats. The theater mechanism would have six degrees of freedom, allowing a ridiculous range of motion for riders, who would be mounted on ride support arms in a manner that reminded me of those roasted chickens you see on a rotisserie in the grocery store deli.
Hey, don't those riders look like Iron Man? Yep, the patent application includes options for helmets and chest plates that would include physical effects and other show elements, simulating the experience of a superhero in flight. And, of yeah, the theater mechanism could be attached to a track, freeing riders from watching just one screen in front of them and allowing them to proceed through a dark ride environment.
Another application is for a "Drift Racer," a two-person car where the front wheels' position is fixed on a track, even though the car's motor powers the wheels to move the car. The rear wheels, though, turn to simulated drifting around curves. If you're thinking real-life "Mario Kart" here, give yourself a mushroom.
I also thought of Mario Kart when reading the application for a "Boom Coaster," a roller coaster where the passenger car would be held by a boom extending from the coaster track. [Update: Or maybe I should have thought of Donkey Kong, given the comments below.] There would be a simulated track surface under the passenger car, hiding the coaster mechanism underneath. This would allow for a wide range of movement and high speeds on what would look like a track ride, but with a light ride vehicle that would not need to include any drive mechanics.
The other two recent patent applications I looked at were for water park rides. The "Functional Mat Racer" works as an interactive water slide, where the rider's mat could light up to illuminate a darkened tunnel or engage in other interactive special effects during the ride. The range of effects include playing selected music tracks during the ride (a la Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit), or displaying colors to let you know what position you are in relative to other racers on the course.
The final application is for a "Slide Entry System" that looks much like the drop boxes on slides such as Ihu's Breakaway Falls at Aquatica. But this one includes a provision for the box to partially fill with water before dropping the rider. This sounds like some sort of sick Houdini water torture trick, but could be a huge hit among fans who want to feel the additional thrill of a potential drowning before plummeting down a high-speed water slide.
Okay, now it's time to play theme park designer. What would you like to see Universal do with these ride systems?Tweet
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